October 23, 2013
You made your presence known almost immediately. The unending sense of off that just did not sit right. A protracted feeling for days of sick and tired and urgently, direly, rapaciously hungry. The kind that gave no warning, and could not possibly wait. The halted walks to put my hand against the wall and wait to feel the desire to heave to pass, and yet I brushed it off. It seems senseless now. You were quiet, yes, but you were unmistakable. Yet mistake you I did. Two tests on a Sunday and after all that I was looking at the wrong faint line. Not sure how that is achievable, but somehow I managed it. Convinced as I was, just as quickly the knowledge wavered. So I put the idea of you away, for a week or so. Waited for my body to tell me otherwise. I took a third test on a Tuesday at 6am, first thing. And I stared at the box harder this time. It was pretty clear after all. There you were. The feeling I felt first was not shock; it was validation. I was right.
I lived with the news on my own for a day. Quietly knowing. Waiting for your father to get home, to get off that plane – from Seattle or LA. I bought an impossibly small pair of shoes and waited to inform him that his wife did not know how to read a pregnancy test apparently, but she had learned. His first reaction was disbelief. Then joy. Then that we needed more life insurance. In that order. How about that? He marveled at the fact that I had known in my bones ahead of confirmation, but it did not surprise me really. I had never felt that way before.
I became an excellent liar. Or so I thought. Something that is not actually my strong suit in reality. I invented excuses not to partake when everyone else was ordering wine. Out of character for sure and feeling like that was a dead give away all the time, I fooled exactly no one. And yet on the days I had to bottle up the truth I started to almost convince myself of the reasons other than you, wondering if you were in fact real or something I had just conjured in my mind. This strange double life…
That changed when we saw you. The abstract made vivid and so real in an instant. Black on white, a hazy relief. Your father came with me to the doctor for evidence, for proof, neither one of us willing to risk believing this too fiercely until it was official, that is to say until it was confirmed by someone other than myself and a finicky piece of plastic. Yet there you were, tiny bean already with a heart that fluttered and fluttered at a voracious pace. Now, I have never had an out of body experience, but that moment truly felt like this must be happening to someone else. To be in that room watching that screen was like a scene stolen from a film. Such a strange role to assume. These milestone moments, materializing as they are beforehand in our minds.
I was silent watching you. Crying. Your father was shocked, and quiet, and amazed.
Now I can picture you. That is a welcome change.
A week later we went across the country and down to Atlanta. At the wedding I learned what it meant to be the only sober person in the room and it was funny until it was not, finally, around 2am. My exhaustion is utterly palpable these days. And yet your father, lover of crowds that he is would not be pried away from the dance floor so easily. Still, I hope I can remember later when we are tired and you have swallowed us whole, the way he kept marveling that night – excited and inebriated – at how there were three of us there, actually, this secret between us whispered over and over in my ear, as I bargained to leave in three more songs.
You could not have come at a better time. And yet, you have accelerated everything. Your nomad parents are for once thinking longer term. About planting somewhere potentially. Yet that place still feels like it could be anywhere. No doubt we’ll need to move now (again), an unwelcome realization that quickly followed the news, unless that is you are literally to sleep in the closet, which I suppose is ok for awhile, if not ideal.
But that is a decision for later on and meanwhile I am in love with the process of quietly telling our friends and family the secret of you, one by one. I love the moment of reaction on their faces – like ‘what, now, how?’ as we confirm that it is in fact true. I am savoring it, and spreading it thinly.
March 20, 2014
I feel you rolling inside now. You are all elbows and knees and shudders and shakes. I feel you rolling inside, and these signs of life, they sustain me day to day. They feed my curiosity endlessly. I cannot help wondering who you will be. What face will greet us. What will become of you eventually.
I am told that you can dream now. And I try to envision you there on the inside, hiccupping so often, catching your breath, practicing how to breathe. I marveled in the early weeks at how you were stitched together so precisely, a tiny figurine. Straightening spine and growing bones, eyelashes and fingernails, vocal cords, teeth buds, fingers and toes.
Your father has accomplished the impossible, convincing me to wait the duration to know who you are, which may just be his greatest sales job to date. Patience is not my strong suit and yet, I am surprising myself. We are rounding the bases, and after what for so long seemed like an endless ramp up, we are counting down now. There is a real part of me that is living in the future, and another that cannot even picture it yet. Still, lately it’s hard not to notice, the weeks are markedly picking up speed.
I find myself imagining you here, 3 years from now, palming the same clementines that I’ve been eating by the dozen these past months. Asking for ice cream. I dream of you small and walking. And yet I cannot quite envision the idea of holding you, so light and dependent in a matter of days. I almost think it might surprise me. This disconnect between seen and unseen suddenly materializing.
Everyone I meet thinks that you are a boy, overwhelmingly, so if you are not I’m sorry to have thought so, love, but I cannot deny that is my guess. I practice one name and then another to see how it feels. I trace it on my tongue and imagine a lifetime of repetition rolling through my lips and wonder if there are any that will quite fit. A moniker seems so monumental a choice to choose for you. But we will be doing more of that yet…
It’s these choices really that are daunting. I severely underestimated this bit. Fundamental things like where we will live and how you will be raised. The great east / west (coast) / midwest debate continues, stronger these days. Even things that once seemed clear, suddenly I am stunned by the sheer cascade of gray. Choosing for you feels different than choosing for us, it was such a crisp process by comparison every other time. The stakes are higher now and there is not much to orient ourselves around. Only judgment calls on the horizon, and more beyond that, so I get the feeling we’re just going to have to work on replacing the best decision with the best we can do somehow in our minds. It hardly feels like an ample trade.
Still, I cannot shake the feeling that you have just a few months of safety left inside and from there on out, there is so much less I can prevent. It’s surreal this process of bend and shift our usual life, and bulge and surrender my old body, and just how much we are in this together these days. How much it’s just you and me right now. How no one else could know you this way. It is incredible and petrifying and also satisfying in a way I cannot quite articulate.
I feel you shift and tumble to the side when I sleep and fall forward when I rise. I feel you knocking. Just hang on till May.
April 14, 2014
Two things I know about you so far: you either love or hate to fly (for that is when I felt you first and so clearly on the take off to Switzerland, and on nearly every aerial trek after that). And you are a glutton for fruit and ice cream. I think this is a good enough start.
There are several things our middle-aged neighbor with the rampant red hair, whom I have had approximately four passing conversations with in our entire tenure here, thinks she knows about you. First of all, that you are a boy. Secondly, that you are coming two weeks early. That, or on the 22nd of the month. It’s a bit imprecise. Thirdly, that you will be a swimmer, and a strong one at that. Fourth, that you will be artistic – a singer, dancer, poet is what she said. And finally, that you will be a team player with us. It’s funny the visions we create for you and how long they’ll take to prove false or true.
I think of that often when I think about choosing your name, how a name is really like a hope. For what kind of life you’ll lead, of the kind of pursuits you’ll have, the kind of person you’ll be. Or a hope that you will be like someone else who shares the same syllables really. It’s hard not to test the options against a certain vision. And each one conjures up something distinct.
You should know, we are so looking forward to you. There’s no other way to say it really. Your presence has become enormous now, in our conversations, in our one-bedroom apartment (which in fact we are not leaving just yet after all, the hall closet having been transformed into the ‘baby closet’ and whatnot lately), of course, physically. And it’s not just me that thinks so. Your cousin here, Austin, a wonder at age 3, likes to remark in his small voice, “I cannot believe how huge the baby is!” when he sees me ambling down the street and honestly Austin, I have to agree. Every week I think I can’t get any bigger, and yet you continue to grow, stealing shreds of my mobility. I shock myself in the mirror, still. 6 weeks to go and it’s all feeling very upon us. Heaven help us, we’re in the red zone now. Get here soon, but please don’t rush.
May 9, 2014
We are two weeks away and the one thing people keep asking me is how I feel. It’s the question I can’t quite find an answer to despite the fact that overall, all is fortunately well. The word I keep finding though, for lack of a better one, is encumbered. But I also feel… you, protruding, farther than seems possible and in a way that is still shocking when I turn to the side. I feel elbows. Elbows and feet and sometimes even a well-defined leg under layers of skin, sharply they extend. Often I can press that small part of you between two fingers in a way that’s almost like touching you before, gun-shy, you move away. I feel claustrophobic, for you that is. No, but literally. The diagrams that illustrate your size and shape these days, the new capabilities you’re forming, I can’t look at for too long, it makes me so uncomfortable on your behalf. I can’t imagine how cramped you are in there, doubling in size in a matter of weeks with nowhere new to go it seems. I feel impatient, to see your face and know who you are, and also supremely out of control. There is no predicting the timing of you or planning ahead as I’m used to, only the rushed but gradual checking off of a to-do list that is slowly dwindling down. But more and more, I feel…ready, in a way. The excitement and ease of the first several months has decidedly given way to this new phase, where the discomfort of every day starts to outweigh the fear of delivery. It’s begun to matter more that this process ends rather than how exactly. I’ve read what books I can, I’ve got a general idea, I’m holding it loosely. One way or another, in the next few weeks little one you’ll actually be here.And that will be a welcome change.